Yiğit Aksakoğlu is a civil society professional working on matters related to children’s rights. He worked at TESEV (Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation) and Istanbul Bilgi University's NGO Research & Education Division. Since 2011, he has been a consultant, among others for the Turkish representative of the Dutch Bernard van Leer Foundation for early childhood development.
Yiğit Aksakoğlu was charged with facilitating the non-violent demonstrations at Gezi Park in 2013. Aksakoğlu was taken into custody and jailed on 16 November 2018. He was in pre-trial detention without an indictment until February 2019, when the Istanbul chief prosecutor finally submitted an indictment to the Court.
Of the thirteen people that were detained on 16 November 2018, only Aksakoğlu was arrested. Evidence used against him includes organising meetings, even though the precise content of these meetings was not ascertained. The Court however stated that it was convinced they were aimed at propagating and reinitiating civil disobedience and demonstrations similar to those in Gezi Park.
Due the many rights violations during the judicial process according to both Constitutional and European law, Aksakoğlu’s lawyers lodged an individual complaint to the Constitutional Court on 1 March 2019. They argued that, amongst others, his examination of arrest was conducted without a hearing and his requests for release were rejected without a justification. There is no ruling on this yet.
Aksakoğlu was placed under the ‘Gezi Park indictment’, together with fifteen others from a different case who are also being accused of facilitating the Gezi Park protests. The indictment was accepted by the Istanbul 30th Criminal Court on 4 March 2019.
The Court released Aksakoğlu on probation at the first hearing held on 24 June 2019.
The fourth hearing of the Gezi case held on 24 and 25 December 2019.
In the fifth hearing of Gezi trial, on 28 January 2020, the defending attorneys’ requests for recusation have been rejected. While the attorneys left in protest, the audience was ordered out of the court hall. The court has not released Osman Kavala despite ECHR verdict.
The prosecutor presented his opinion as to the accusations on Gezi trial to the court on February 6, 2020. He asked Yiğit Aksakoğlu, alongside with Osman Kavala and Mücella Yapıcı be penalized as per the relevant provisions in the Article 312 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) on charge of “attempting to overthrow the Government of the Republic of Turkey or attempting to partially or completely prevent them from fulfilling its duties by using force and violence.”
The 6. hearing of the case held on February 18, 2020. The Istanbul 30th Heavy Penal Court has acquitted all suspects, including Yiğit Aksakoğlu.
The Constitutional Court (AYM) decided on 30 December 2020 that Aksakoğlu's arrest was a violation of rights and ordered compensation. In the decision, it was emphasized that there is no fact or evidence that Aksakoğlu, who attended the training on nonviolent actions, tried to encourage people to rebel.
However, the 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice lifted the acquittal decisions on January 22, 2021. The Chamber ordered that the case file be sent to the court of first instance for re-examination and judgment. With the missing evidence, it was decided to continue the trial.
The 36th Assize Court trying Kavala decided for the joinder of the case regarding the crimes of “attempting to subvert the Constitutional order” and “political and military espionage” with the Gezi trial at the hearing that took place on February 5, 2021.
Another merger decision came on April 28, 2021. The case of Can Dündar, Mehmet Ali Alabora, Ayşe Pınar Alabora, Gökçe Tüylüoğlu, Handan Meltem Arıkan, Hanzade Hikmet Germiyanoğlu and İnanç Ekmekçi, who were tried in the Gezi trial on the allegation of 'attempting to overthrow the government' and whose files were separated 'because they were abroad' merged with the main Gezi Trial by the decision of Istanbul 30th High Criminal Court.
The Istanbul 30th High Criminal Court on May 21, 2021 began the retrial of Yiğit Aksakoğlu and 15 others including Osman Kavala, over their role in nationwide protests in 2013.
The verdict of the Çarşı case, in which 35 people were acquitted in December 2015, was overturned on April 28, 2021. Overturning the decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the file should be merged with the Gezi Park case. Mahmut Başbuğ, the judge of the 30th High Criminal Court, wrote to the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court, where the Çarşı case will be heard on June 15, 2021, suggesting that the files be combined. Then, on July 28, 2021, Başbuğ, who was temporarily appointed to this court, found his request on the spot and approved the merger. Thus, the files were combined with the judgment of the judge who made both the request and the decision.
After the merger decision, the hearing on 6 August was also cancelled.
The next hearing was held on 8 October 2021. The lawyers demanded the separation of the files and the release of Osman Kavala, but the court decided to continue the detention and set the next hearing date as 26 November 2021.
The fifth hearing of the merged case was held on February 21, 2022. The court adjourned the case to March 21, 2022, urging the Gezi and Çarşı files to be separated once again.
Announcing his opinion on March 4, 2022, the prosecutor demanded that Osman Kavala and Mücella Yapıcı be sentenced to aggravated life sentence on the charge of “attempting to overthrow the Government of the Republic of Turkey by using force and violence”. For the other defendants, Çiğdem Mater Utku, Ali Hakan Altınay, Mine Özerden, Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman, and Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi, he demanded from 15 up to 20 years in prison with the charge of “aiding the attempt to overthrow the Government of the Republic of Turkey by using force and violence“.
At the sixth hearing, Yiğit Aksakoğlu's lawyer Aslı Kazan said that the audio recordings put in the file as 'evidence' were missing and wanted to listen to the entire audio recording about her client, but the presiding judge Özdemir did not accept. Deciding to give the defendants and their lawyers a final time to make statements against the opinion on the merits, the delegation ruled that their demands for a deepening of the investigation would not contribute to the file.
In the judgment hearing held on April 22 and 25, 2022, Mücella Yapıcı, Çiğdem Mater, Ali Hakan Altınay, Mine Özerden, Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman and Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi were sentenced to 18 years in prison for aiding the crime of "attempting to overthrow the government". With the decision, they were ordered to be arrested. The files of Yiğit Aksakoğlu and other "fugitive" defendants Henry Jack Barkey, Can Dündar, Memet Ali Alabora, Pınar Alabora, Gökçe Yılmaz, Meltem Arıkan, Hanzade Hikmet Germiyanoğlu and İnanç Ekmekçi were separated.